Citibank is pursuing an important element of public relations by building community relations. The past year has been tough for Citibank as it lost millions of dollars during the financial meltdown. Of course, Citibank’s own practices contributed to the losses so we should not feel too bad. Citibank is helping to feed hungry New Yorkers this year:
“City Harvest, the world’s first food rescue organization dedicated to feeding New York City’s hungry men, women and children is joining forces this holiday season with Citibank. As part of “Our Promise to New York,” Citibank will contribute $100,000 to help City Harvest rescue and deliver close to 400,000 pounds of food to feed hungry New Yorkers this Thanksgiving.
The partnership commenced earlier this month with a three-week-long food drive in 106 Citibank branches throughout the five boroughs. The food drive continues through November 14. By encouraging their customers and the local community to donate, Citibank hopes to collect 20,000 pounds of nonperishable ingredients for City Harvest to distribute to community programs around the city. Suggested donations include instant mashed potatoes, stuffing, canned green beans, canned yams, cranberry sauce, canned gravy — and all of the other ‘trimmings’ for a Thanksgiving meal. Visit www.cityharvest.org to find a participating Citibank branch near you.” Citibank’s rationale for the program: “’We launched ‘Our Promise to New York’ in September to reinforce our strong and ongoing commitment to putting our customers at the center of everything we do and to keeping New York City the best city in the world,” said Bill Brown, Citibank Manhattan Division Manager. ‘We’re especially gratified to be able to partner with City Harvest to help feed our fellow New Yorkers this holiday season,’” he continued. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Citibank-and-City-Harvest-prnews-4032874734.html?x=0&.v=1
To learn more about City Harvest, visit www.cityharvest.org.
An event was planned as well around the giving:
- 150+ Citibank volunteers will help City Harvest re-pack 50,000 pounds of fresh produce from local farmers for City Harvest to distribute to community programs throughout New York City.
- Olympic Figure Skater Nancy Kerrigan will stop by to lend her support, sign autographs and tape a 30 second public service announcement about Citibank’s commitment to local communities and the importance of giving back.
- 2010 Figure Skating Olympic Hopeful Hayley Sacks will also be on hand to meet and greet fans and sign autographs.
- Saturday, November 14, 2009
10:15 a.m……………………Opening remarks and event kick-off
11:00-11:15 a.m………………………Nancy Kerrigan PSA taping
11:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m…..Nancy Kerrigan, Hayley Sacks meet and greet
- The Pond at Bryant Park, located at 6th Ave and 41st Street
The Pond at Bryant Park, made possible by Citi, provides locals and visitors with a one-stop-shop for outdoor winter fun and New York City’s first and only free admission ice skating rink. The 17,000-square-foot rink offers 360 degree viewing access and can accommodate up to 500 people.” http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Citibank-and-City-Harvest-bw-2808898907.html?x=0&.v=1
This community relations publicity came shortly after Citibank announced new fees for its customers. Customers with checking accounts will how have to pay $7.50 a month if they do not maintain a balance of $1,500. In the past the fee was waived if customers set up direct deposit of paychecks or two automatic bill payments. http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local-beat/Citibank-to-Increase-Checking-Fees-69817797.html So there was some bad news for some constituents of Citibank as well.
Questions to Consider
- What problems and/or benefits do you see in mixing these the positive and negative messages?
- Is the community relations effort a logical action for Citibank—consistent with business? Why or why not?
- What is the value of have the two figure skaters at the event?
- Do you see any problems about announcing a filming of a PSA about Citibank’s community efforts? Why or why not?
- Why does the new fee create a negative impression when it is a legal business practice?
- How do you think the recent financial crisis will color constituents’ perceptions of any action, good or bad, taken by Citibank?